Dr Lucy Razzall
BA, MPhil, PhD
- Special Supervisor in English
Dr Lucy Razzall is a scholar of English literature and culture 1500-1700, with a particular interest in material texts and material culture. Dr Razzall completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at Jesus College, Cambridge, and was subsequently appointed to a Research Fellowship at Emmanuel College. She then lectured in the English departments at Queen Mary University of London and University College London before returning to Cambridge, where she is a Bye-Fellow at Christ’s College. Dr Razzall teaches Shakespeare and early modern literature across all parts of the English Tripos, including the Part II special option, Material Renaissance.
Dr Razzall’s research explores the interplay between literature and material culture, especially in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Her first book, Boxes and Books in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2021), examines the imaginative significance of one of the most familiar of all objects, the box. Engaging with recent work on material culture, Reformation history, and book history, Lucy weaves together close readings of texts and objects, from plays, sermons, and poems, to chests, bookbindings, relics, and coffins. In tracing the box as matter and metaphor, her book reveals some of the enduring ways in which we still think about people, texts, and things.
Dr Razzall has also published essays and journal articles on material culture and material texts in the early modern period, on subjects including relics, emblems, and print culture.
Dr Razzall’s next major project is an interdisciplinary history of cardboard, an area of book and paper history which has received little attention. Cardboard’s early modern predecessor, pasteboard, was the plastic of its time, with almost innumerable uses from the domestic to the medical and the scientific. Pasteboard was a versatile substance that materialised several paradoxes. It was both stiff and pliable, and could form a flat surface or a three-dimensional structure. It was thicker than individual sheets of paper but not as strong as wooden ‘board’, and it could provide essential support, strength, and protection whilst also being something temporary or disposable, the product of leftovers. This project will trace the global history of this versatile substance from its premodern origins to the ubiquitous packaging material of the present.
Dr Razzall’s overall research interests include: material texts; history of the book; material culture; textiles history; theology and religion; discard studies; and environmental humanities.